A couple of months ago, a new monument was opened in Washington DC . It was the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. The sculpture you see is in the memorial centre, and it is the work of a Chinese artist, who comes from Changsha in Hunan – the same town Mao Zedong spent his early days in. Martin Luther King Jr, as most of us know, was a church minister who was better known as a civil rights leader. Other than his “I have a dream” speech, another speech I like is about how people should seek to unite as much as possible, to always seek common ground. An extract of this speech reads like this:
… all life is interrelated, … somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
I have no doubt Dr King’s aspiration for people to work together, was borne out of his knowledge of our God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as members of our triune God, are in a relationship where each member shares a common purpose with the other two. We are created in the image of God so we too, are to have a relational character which we exercise by sharing a common purpose. We are here every Sunday, to build each other up. Our lives are inter-related and we share mutuality and a common destiny. When one hurts all ought to hurt. When one rejoices, all ought rejoice. When you are blessed, I am blessed.
Sometimes we hear the saying, “it doesn’t matter what everyone else in church does – we are here to worship God”. That may be true but only in part, and quite often a partial truth can be the worst kind of deception. We do not worship God in isolation. We are in a community of faith – we are one body. What one does or does not do, affects everyone else. We watch out for each other, we come here for each other. Our plans and activities are always about the wider community of faith, not about us as individuals or even families or groups of individuals. When someone is not here, everyone else should be affected. If we aren’t affected by each other’s absence or pain, I guess we haven’t quite become one body yet. It isn’t just about whether something is good for my personal wellbeing and development or my family relations it is also about whether it is good for the community of faith and whether my plans and activities would benefit this community.
Thus we are not called to remember the holy sacrament just so each of us can individually remember the Lord’s death for us. Often in a communion exhortation, we read 1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25 to remember that it was the Lord’s command for us to commemorate His death that we eat the bread and the cup. The context of this passage however, is one where Paul chastised the believers in Corinth because each person was doing his own thing. It is the body of Christ which is in focus, and we are asked not just to do things which benefit our own walk with the Lord, but also to build each other up.
So this morning as we hold the bread and drink from the cup, can I encourage all of us to consider this fellowship of believers, as one body to whom we are accountable. As a body then let us each the bread together in remembering the death and suffering of our Lord Jesus. (pause). Let us now also drink from the cup together, as a body in common. Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, when your Son was on earth, He prayed that all who believed in Him may be one, just as You and Your Son were one. Help us this morning as One Body, to come before You as Our Lord and God. Teach us to love and build each other up. Teach us to think as one, beyond just as individuals or even groups of individuals. Help us to be like you God, and be one. Amen.
- Missiological Implications of the Symbolic Understanding of the Lord’s Supper (missionmusings.wordpress.com)
- Communion – Solidarity (petercaochitien.wordpress.com)
- John W. Whitehead: When Martin Luther King Reached the Point of No Return (huffingtonpost.com)
- DuPont Donates $1 Million to Develop New Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial (prweb.com)